MONITORING GRIZZLY BEARS IN SOUTHWESTERN ALBERTACategory: 2013, Completed, Grant, Land Use
Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association
Biosphere reserves strive to find a balance between healthy ecosystems and sustainable communities. Grizzly-human conflicts in the Waterton Biosphere Reserve (WBR) challenge both conservation of biodiversity and maintenance of ranching as a sustainable economic activity. This project will provide the data necessary to form a solid basis for management of grizzly bears in this landscape, supported by both wildlife managers and local landowners. It will help to fine tune actions landowners can take to reduce conflict. This in turn will support the overall aim of the WBR’s Carnivores and Communities program to “achieve a balance between large carnivore conservation and agriculture.”
Many conflict reduction projects have been implemented in the area, such as electric fencing, grain bin modifications, etc. between 2008 and 2012. While ad-hoc monitoring of these projects has occurred, it has become apparent that a more deliberate, targeted monitoring program is necessary to determine design effectiveness, the response of grizzly bears to attractant management projects, and /or identify necessary changes or improvements.
This project expands monitoring efforts of grizzly bears in the area to include monitoring of conflict mitigation projects. This work will include both non-invasive DNA and remote trail camera monitoring. This will ensure projects are designed appropriately and modified based on bear behaviour if needed. A complete and thorough monitoring effort capable of filling both knowledge gaps is critical to ensuring that future management and conservation actions are effective, appropriately targeted, scientifically defensible, and locally supported. Simply put, without a monitoring framework it is not possible to effectively measure the success or failings of grizzly bear conservation and management actions in this critical southwest region of Alberta. Only in this way can we hope to effectively decrease conflict and find a balance between grizzlies and ranching in southwestern Alberta.